Deb McIntosh puts together Christmas hampers with Community Harvest Food Bank volunteers last year. Photo: John Boivin

LETTERS: Homelessness, climate and illegal dumping

This week’s letters from Castlegar readers look at a variety of topics.

Conversation about

homelessness worth having

For the second time this month, Community Harvest Food Bank, Drop-In Centre and Emergency Shelter has been on Columbia Avenue in front of Pioneer Arena with signage hoping to start a conversation about housing in Castlegar. Our intent is and will continue to be to about bringing awareness to the issue of housing stock in the Castlegar area. We need more subsidized housing and we need supportive housing.

We had people stop and donate warm clothing, blankets and drop off money but even more important are those who stopped and asked us questions and were so willing to have a conversation. Affordable housing is not only ethical, but it is economical. The cost of caring for those on the streets is for more expensive than providing housing. It just makes sense.

Homelessness doesn’t always look the same. Many of our homeless would not be recognized as such. There are no shopping carts with bags full of one’s life, we don’t have people huddled on heating grates or tent cities. What we do have is a small population of people who couch surf, sleep in the bushes, on available green spaces, on cement pads hidden behind businesses, in vehicles and in some cases, antiquated RVs with nowhere to park.

We had a young man, a homeowner, in the rental business, stop by and he asked us what he can do to help. What a refreshing conversation. We had a Selkirk College Student Union representative stop by and again a really good conversation was had about the lack of student housing. We also had a few people who are homeowners talk to us about the harsh realities of being a landlord as well as tenants with their own stories. Our purpose is not to debate the merits of tenancy but to advocate for a continuum of housing to meet the needs of the community.

The movement is growing, and we know there are many out there like us who just want to to do right by people. Housing is essential to the well being of all people and all communities.

Please have this conversation with your family and friends as well as your elected officials within all three levels of government. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at the food bank to continue this discussion or to find out more of what we do. Stop by for a visit Monday, Wednesday or Friday at St. David’s Church 9:30 to 1:30. The coffee is always on.

The board of directors of Community

Harvest Food Bank

Deb McIntosh, Val Field, Henny

Hanegraaf, Rob Lindskog, Deb Soroka, Elizabeth Huether, and Jana Tremblay

Walk in the woods reveals illegal dump

There are many desirable places to walk in and around Castlegar. Sometimes when I want to go on a quiet woodland walk, I will walk on local forestry roads outside of town. One such road is to the east of Castlegar on the other side of the Bombi summit. I appreciate the mixed coniferous and deciduous forest. It is a place to note and admire the change of seasons. Now, the golden larch is notable and the mature aspen is always stunning here regardless of season.

After some months absent, I chose to walk on this forestry road. Upon approaching the first switchback, I came across piles of garbage — large plastic containers, auto parts, furniture, Styrofoam, etc. Ugh. This is not unusual. Our forestry roads are often used for garbage disposal.

This time I decided to do something about it. I spent part of Saturday afternoon moving mostly larger pieces from the roadside corner to the side of the highway. Once satisfied with an unsightly pile (and some smaller pieces put in my car) I considered my task completed. My intention was to bring that which was intended to be hidden into plain view. I finished off the pile with black spray paint on the trashed automobile hood with “dirt roads do not equal garbage dumps.”

It is not my intent to be self-righteous but can’t we do better than this and show some respect for the natural environment we live in?

Janet Bruce

Castlegar

Priorities out of balance

A 1970 UN resolution set foreign aid at 0.7 per cent of gross national income. Canada has never met that commitment although millions starve or die from dirty water, curable illnesses, and climatic disasters. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer promised to gut our already anorexic foreign aid budget.

In 2006, economist Sir Nicholas Stern determined the benefits of combating climatic change considerably outweigh the costs. He calculated costs at one per cent of global GDP. He forecast ignoring climate change will damage economic growth and create risks similar to the Great Wars and Depression of the 20th century.

Canada has never allocated one per cent of its GDP to greenhouse gas reductions. We’re failing to meet our Paris Accord commitments. In contrast, Canada agreed to NATO’s request to spend two per cent of its GDP on defence by 2024. In 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fattened Canada’s defence spending by 70 per cent. Our international priorities are shamefully inequitable and inhumanely skewed.

Robert M. Macrae

Environmental Technology Instructor

Castlegar

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